Monday, June 23, 2014

Production dream has turned me into cyberstalker

Once you start talking about producing your script: people start asking “Who do you see in it?”

It’s a logical question.

I think what they’re really asking is what do these characters look and sound like.

What I always hear though is: “Are you crazy or bat shit crazy?”

Until quite recently I didn’t have a ready response. Just a couple months ago I was still wondering whether I could finish this thing. Now I’m supposed by brash enough to suppose known Hollywood actors would want to be in my film?

Do I play is stay modest or go big and say Jennifer Lawrence?

I’ve never fixated on stars. I was always more interested in who wrote the story and how the production came together.

But now with the dream of putting my film into production, I’ve turned into a celebrity cyberstalker.
I’m making lists. And thanks to IMDBPro its easy to look up their agent.

I make lots of lists these days.

I'm now busily adding to my list of agents, producers, directors and actors who might help move my film along.

It’s already changed the way I watch movies. Suddenly actors aren’t just distant beings I never have to worry about meeting to possible creative collaborators.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Spec script no longer king in Hollywood, but not only route to success

I have to admit I have visions of sugar plumbs dancing in my head.

Here I am with a script still in the revision mode and I'm thinking about what a reasonable offer from a Hollywood studio would be. Having read (or listened to) Joe Eszterhas' book "Hollywood Animal," I figured might have a distorted view of the spec market. Esterhas went from journalist to one of the hottest writers in Hollywood mostly by selling spec scripts like Basic Instinct. He fetched $2 million for Showgirls.

This informative 2013 Vanity Fair article chronicles the ups and downs of the spec script market. A speculative script is the work of a screenwriter telling an original story not commissioned by a studio. The cold hard fact is the very few sell. According to the article, 119 were sold in 2011 followed by 96 sold in 2012.

Here is a pretty clear explanation why studios have gravitated towards tested products with built-in audiences. 
The new math isn’t complicated: pay a screenwriter $1 million for an untested, unknown idea or squeeze a movie out of an existing product with built-in branding. As a result, “developing from I.P.”—intellectual property, i.e., books, comics, video games, old movies, TV series, toys—“has become de rigueur rather than waiting for a spec to come in,” says Langley. “The focus shifted from original ideas to hedging your bets,” notes Moore. Or, as Shane Black says, “there’s only the careful choice of a product that goes through committee. It’s: how can we make movies that we absolutely know won’t lose any money?” As it happens, Black is currently directing the third installment of the billion-dollar Iron Man franchise, due for release this spring. Read the full article. 
It's the kinda thing that might drive someone towards sharp objects, but I give it no mind. The article focus on the major studios. What it doesn't address is the ability of indie producers to circumvent the studios. Developments in that realm give me the confidence my little screenplay will eventually light up movie screens even if those screens happen to fit in your pocket.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I'm going to make a film

I’m taking a break from my sink full of dirty dishes to declare that I intend on making a movie.
Readers of this blog -- all 15 of you -- should know that I’ve recently completed writing my first feature-length screenplay.
I heartily accept your congratulations on how far I’ve come -- it’s already represents my longest sustained effort in any single endeavor -- but there is a big difference between a completed screenplay and a script that’s turned into a movie.
I shall complete the latter.
It consumes me. Six thoughts out of 10 are about next steps towards making it happens. I read. I plot. I youtube knowledge. And I try attempt to resist letting it dominate every conversation with friends.
Just this week, I’ve been corralling actors for a “table read” of the script, started planning a marketing photo shoot, talked to two potential investors, and convinced the companion video game.
I’m as serious as a heart attack.
For those new to the blog, I’ll end the suspense. The title is “Pink” or maybe “Pink Pussy Kat.” (Offer your thoughts in the comment field)
Here what the back of the box reads: A free-speech-loving exotic dancer battles a small-town sheriff and bares it all to convince a jury that her "bottomless" dance is art worthy of protection in this sexy courtroom comedy based on an actual 1969 case.
I heard about the case from a newsroom old timer and dove into the newspaper clips. I’m surprised to see this there is no Wikipedia entry on this as the case or the bar. My surprise is heightened by the fact that the government’s loss is was the impetus for the revision in California law governing adult entertainment that still stands today.
There are two possible paths towards realizing this vision of getting the movie made. One is Hollywood. The other is as an Independent Film.
I will exhaust all reasonable efforts to see it made as a Hollywood film.
This is a premise that has sizzle. There is a reason it was a national story back in ‘69. Judges don’t take jury’s to strip clubs every day. As Earl Warren Jr. put it the jury would have a better look at the evidence by actually watching the dance.
This is American Hustle meets People Vs. Larry Flint meets Flashdance.
I intend on submitting it to a cross section of screenwriting competitions to help it gain visibility. I’ll cold call, stock and harass agents in an attempt to get representation. I’ll exploit personal connection to make this happen.
But knowing what little I know about Hollywood, I know that may not be enough.
That’s why I almost hope I’ll be presented with the challenge fully-realizing Perpetual F Entertainment and producing Pink as an Independent Film.
Between crowdfunding, live event fundraisers, angel investors and pre-funding distribution deals, I think it possible to finance the film at the level to warrant broad distribution.
All that to say, with the right network this is within reach.
I’ve been a newspaper man the last 14 years, but I have a track record as a doer.
Two quick stories before I go back to the dishes.
During my waning days as student body president of my high school an opportunity presented itself to open a student store. So during my spare time between school work sports, theater, and other student leadership duties I got the space allocated, got a contractor to make building modifications, and ordered product. The store still stands.
In college, as editor-in-chief we decided to pick up our newsroom and move it to New Orleans to produce three extra daily editions during my school’s big football game the Bayou Classic.
This new challenge will be the maximum test of my skills and I’m ready for it.